Margin: Exploring Modern Magical 

Realism

C O L U M N
TRAVELS WITH BRUCE
t r a c k i n g   m a g i c a l   r e a l i s m   t h e   w o r l d   o v e r

Travels with Bruce highlights various public efforts by Margin publisher Tamara Kaye Sellman and Bruce Taylor, founder of the Magic Realist Writers International Network, as they hit the road to promote understanding of magical realism and its writers.

BRUCE TAYLOR does his usual rooting around at regional Cons, while Tamara Sellman minds the virtual office, wishing for ElastiGirl's flexibility in the face of annoying arthritis and personal deadlines…

RustyCon, Seattle, WA, January 13-15 2006

Author Guest of Honor: Mike Moscoe

"Unfortunately, though my new book, Kafka's Uncle and Other Strange Tales, sold well at RustyCon, selling Magic Realism proved to be another matter entirely. No panels were offered on the topic, yet flyers put out on the table vanished at an acceptable rate, indicating a strong interest in the subject. The market for interest in it has hardly reached its saturation point, which is hopeful because many of the attendees of Science Fiction conventions are repeats who attend several different conventions. So the question remains why, when panels on Magic Realism are offered in the planning stages, some conventions don't schedule them.

One of the panels I sat on at RustyCon: How To Write About Something You Know Nothing About. In other words, how to craft a story in such a way as to suspend a reader's disbelief. One idea: if you can’t afford to go to Florida where you have set your story, you can read National Geographic (as I once did for a story) or you can go to the Internet—the point being that writers must do whatever research necessary and possible to make a story feel real. By extension, if you don’t know anything about Magic Realism, the same solution applies; read it, read about it, talk to those who write it, watch MR films. After such immersion in any topic, it soaks in and you can develop a true sense of the mode.

Other panel topics included: Delivering On The Promise Of Your Story, Publishing Bloopers, What Editors Like To See, Past Life Regression: Fact Or Fiction?, Conventions And Homeland Security, Weird Westerns, So You Want To Be A Producer. A small Con with just about everything for everyone—except if you’re looking for Magic Realism."

RadCon 4B, Pasco, WA, February 17-19 2006

Author Guest of Honor: Jay Lake
Special Guests of Honor: Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Editor Guest of Honor: Ann Sowards
Small Press Guest of Honor: Patrick Swenson

"Sigh. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try…Panel and description:

Magic Realism In Films—Is that really how you set (sic) on a broom when you fly, are those spell casting hand motions realistic? I don’t know, but find out what is right and wrong about how magic in portrayed by Hollywood.”

When you read a description of Magic Realism like that, it’s enough to make you turn right around in ten degree weather and drive on back to Seattle. Lord knows how they got it so wrong with the information I sent for the program book. But first thing Saturday morning, the panelists were there and the discussion about Magic Realism was lively, with a lot of information seeking, rather than sharing (which I certainly did). As usual, giving examples of film—Like Water For Chocolate, Big Fish, Finding Neverland, Pleasantville—and mentioning The Twilight Zone made the concept understandable. (“Oh, so that’s what made that book/play/tv show/movie so unusual…”)

Unfortunately, discussion of MR didn’t go much beyond the panel, which is fairly ironic, since the Guest of Honor, Jay Lake, is one of the most inventive and ingenious writers of surrealism/Magic Realism I have ever met. Also ironic because folks certainly recognized me as the author of Kafka's Uncle and Other Strange Tales, which sold just as well as my earlier work, The Final Trick of Funnyman. While Funnyman is a blend surrealism and MR, it's more MR-oriented than Kafka's Uncle.

So, as for Magic Realism at RadCon4B—I just don't have a clue…"

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